KING ABDULLAH ECONOMIC CITY, Saudi Arabia: Leonie Harm of Germany made history as the first professional to hit a golf shot on Saudi soil and England’s Georgia Hall got off to a fast start, taking the lead after the first round on Thursday in the inaugural Aramco Saudi Ladies International golf tournament.
Harm struck the tournament’s opening tee shot that launched the first-ever professional women’s golf event to take place in Saudi Arabia at the Royal Greens Golf and Country Club in a bio-secure environment within the King Abdullah Economic City, due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The women’s golf week in the Kingdom features the $1m Saudi Ladies International and the $500,000 Saudi Ladies Team International, which starts on Nov. 17.
Major winner Hall took advantage of the calm morning conditions to shoot a course record 7-under 65 in a near-flawless round highlighted by six birdies on the front nine, as she led a slew of low scores on the day.
One stroke back on 66 was Lydia Hall of Wales, with Finland’s Ursula Wikstrom and Denmark’s Emily Pedersen both on 5-under, two shots ahead of a group of pursuers.
“I think it’s fantastic that it’s the first-ever professional ladies’ event here. The golf course is fantastic, a real test. The tournament is off to a great start,” Hall told Arab News.
“It was an easy time this morning, I think it might start harder tomorrow. I might have lower shots, but we will see,” Hall said of her bogeyless display on the superbly set-up golf course on the Red Sea coast.
“I love playing and especially competing. That is why I play golf. I’m quite a competitive person.
“Every week I experience a new golf course and compete against the best. I really enjoy it, and I just try to achieve new things big or small every day, especially after COVID-19 and lockdown. Every little thing matters.”
Hall, who had eight birdies, said: “I’m really pleased with how I started. I got off to a fast start in the back nine – my front nine – and I think it was the nicer nine to play to get the score going.
“It was definitely an advantage to start on hole 10 this morning as you didn’t have much of a wind, the holes are a little shorter and there’s not many you’re going into the wind.
“I’ve been playing fairly solidly over the last couple of weeks even though scores haven’t showed, but I putted really well today as you can imagine from the score. It’s nice to see two Halls at the top for a change,” she added.
Sweden’s Linda Wessberg, Tonje Daffinrud of Norway, and Nobuhle Dlamini – Swaziland’s first-ever professional golfer – all returned 3-under scores in the tournament presented by Public Investment Fund (PIF).